Is it possible to speak dog? Do you wonder if you understand your dog?
Dog’s communicate with their bodies so once you can read their body language you will be speaking fluent dog, it’s like learning a version of sign language.
If you can start to read your dog’s body language then you will start to understand how he is thinking and feeling.
So what is your dog saying?
The first thing to point out is that every dog is different. They may exhibit all of these signs or may just show one or two. Nobody knows your dog like you do, so use these signs as a guideline but always look at the whole picture.
A dog’s tail
- A wide, circular tail wag or sweeping tail wag shows your dog is happy but did you know that a tail wagging doesn’t necessarily mean it is from a friendly dog? Dogs can wag their tail when they are being aggressive.
- A tucked in tail shows your dog is in discomfort or is afraid.
- If the tail is tense or stiff it is a sign that your dog is being dominant, aggressive or is showing a sign of alert.
- If your dog’s tail is lowered and wags quickly it could mean he is uncertain or just very relaxed and happy.
A dog’s eyes
- When a dog is relaxed he will turn his head to look at something and his pupils will be in the centre.
- If your dog is frightened he may have dilated pupils or widen their eyes and you will see the whites of his eyes.
A dog’s mouth
- A dog yawning can mean he is trying to calm a situation down or is stressed. Other calming signals are the dog turning his head away from a situation, walking in a curve, shaking his body or head or walking slowly or even freezing on the spot.
- If your dog is scared he may use calming signals such as licking his lips. He lips may also be taught.
- A dog may pull his lips back and growl or show his teeth, this is a warning sign that he may bite. Try not to tell your dog off when he does this – he is trying to talk to you and you need to listen to what is scaring him or what he is trying to defend himself from. If he thinks you aren’t listening to him, next time he may not give you the warning signals.
A dog’s ears
It can be difficult to read some dog’s body language by their ears as they come in all shapes and sizes.
- A worried dog generally will pin their ears back.
- If a dog holds their ears forward or high it can indicate confidence.
- A dogs ears that are tilted backwards can indicate submission.
A dog’s fur
- When a dog raises their hackles it doesn’t mean the dog is aggressive. Dogs raise their hackles for different reasons, it could mean a heightened emotional state, excitement, fear, arousal or showing defensive behaviour.
As we said above, these are just a few pointers to help you understand your dog’s body language but you know your dog better than anyone so keep the whole picture in mind when trying to decide what he is trying to communicate to you.